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“Please don’t let it be a Muslim”

21 April 2013 Salon 4 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

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“Please don’t let it be a Muslim”

by Wajahat Ali

The twin bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon, which killed two and injured at least 176, inspired divergent responses to a sudden, senseless tragedy. In the immediate aftermath of the blasts, some marathon participants continued running to nearby hospitals to donate blood,  many Boston citizens offered free food and shelter to strangers, and diverse communities sent financial donations and prayers of peace and comfort to victims and their families. Others, however, chose to fan the flames of anti-Muslim bigotry and hysteria for sake of sensationalistic headlines and divisive ideological agendas.

Upon learning of the tragedy, many Muslims worldwide began the obligatory minority prayer: “Please don’t let it be a Muslim (suspect), please don’t let it be a Muslim.” Ever since September 11, Muslims have learned that the criminal action of one unhinged individual unfairly casts guilt by association on anyone suspected of being “Muslimy.”

On the day of the blasts, The New York Post, the Mr. Magoo of newspapers, declared that a Saudi Arabian national was being held as a suspect. The headline persisted even after Boston police commissioner Edward Davis confirmed law enforcement had no suspects in custody. Never letting facts get in the way of publishing fiction as truth, the Post also claimed 12 people had died, instead of the then-confirmed two fatalities. (The fatality count has since grown to three.)

Anti-Muslim blogger Pam Geller, co-founder of Stop Islamization of America, cited the Post’s story with her headline “Jihadi arrested in horrific Boston bombing” deliberately conflating the ethnicity of the Trojan Horse “Saudi.” A day after the bombing, Geller revealed “…the most important piece of evidence if the Saudi national proves to be connected to the terror bombing in Boston. ‘He’s a quiet, devout Muslim.’” (Original bold). Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips, another Islamophobe preternaturally gifted with clairvoyance, echoed: “It is a pretty safe bet right now that this attack was carried out by an Islamist.”

Pentagon officials and those with actual law enforcement credentials say there are still no suspects and no indication of al-Qaeda or foreign connections. The Pakistani Taliban denied responsibility as well.

Of course, this reckless scapegoating evokes memories of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that took 168 lives, including 19 children. Before law enforcement had any suspects, discredited counter-terrorism expert Steve Emerson stated the attack had a “Middle Eastern trait” because it was carried out “with intent to inflict as many casualties as possible.”  The perpetrator was Timothy McVeigh: a white supremacist, anti-government radical.

Emerson’s history of manufactured evidence, public embarrassment, and fear-mongering has not stopped C-SPAN from inviting him to comment on the Boston bombings. Emerson offered this gem: “[The Saudi] has not been convicted, but the burns on his skin match the explosive residue of the bomb that exploded.”  Later, Emerson went on Fox News and admitted the Saudi suspect had been ruled out after the announcement by Boston Police.

The unnamed “Saudi,” a student in his 20s studying at a Boston university on a Saudi scholarship, is in the hospital being treated for serious burn injuries sustained from the blast. In accordance with stealth jihadist behavior and subterfuge, he fully cooperated with law enforcement and volunteered to have his apartment searched.

The Saudi suspect fiasco teaches those who are “Muslimy” to run away from life-threatening explosions in a calm, friendly manner as to not arouse suspicion.  Another option includes running towards life-threatening explosions, but risk being falsely accused of orchestrating the violence. A third option is to stay in place with a smile plastered on your face; unfortunately, your well-intentioned attempts to placate hysteria will instead bemistaken as celebration.

The safest and best option is to freeze, smile widely, wave your American flags wildly, and repeat the mantra “I love America” patriotically. Also, because Islamophobes will forever accuse you of never condemning terrorism, please vociferously continue offering condemnations, like you always have, knowing full well they will fall on deaf, ignorant ears.

Say all of this – unless you have a foreign accent, in which case please remain silent in public. Two passengers headed to Chicago from Logan Airport were de-boarded a day after the Boston tragedy because passengers expressed concern hearing them speak Arabic.

This behavior persists despite terrorist incidents involving American Muslims declining for the third straight year. Furthermore, recent studies show American Muslims help law enforcement and are more likely to reject violence than any other U.S. religious community, and that nearly all American Muslims have no sympathy or loyalty for al-Qaida. Also, acts of extremism and radicalized violence are not unique to American Muslims. In the past year, multiple mass shooting tragedies in America have killed 66 Americans, compared to 33 fatalities resulting from Muslim-American terrorism in the decade since September 11.

Despite all this — and a rich history that traces back to the founding of the country — American Muslims are asked to investigate, defend, explain, self-police and apologize for our own identity and communities to absolve ourselves of guilt by association. In front of a nameless, faceless hostile judge and jury, we are interrogated to prove beyond an unreasonable, irrational doubt that we are indeed loyal, patriotic, America-holic, justifiably outraged and remorseful for acts of violence “we” did not commit– all 1.5 billion of us along with millions lumped in as “Muslimy,” including Sikhs, Arab Christians, Hindus and Persian Jews.

Some have suggested that “Muslimy” communities should not complain because scapegoating happens to all people, regardless of color, citing the media hazing of heroic security guard Richard Jewell, who was wrongfully accused as the bombing suspect in the aftermath of the 1996 Olympic bombing that killed one woman and injured 111 people.

The critical difference, however, is the powerful privilege of whiteness: when a white individual is accused of committing an act of terror he alone bears the brunt of responsibility for his crime, and the collective burden is not assigned on those who share his features. This privilege should belong to all citizens, regardless of ethnicity and religious identification, instead of being earned by surviving an unending gauntlet of pre-emptive and reactive questions, assumptions and apologies.

White people wear a Teflon cloak whereas minorities wear a flimsy, moth-eaten cape of kryptonite and a “Kick Me” sign. In other words, white people are like Bugs Bunny allowed to observe the chaos at a distance, eat a carrot and make witty quips — but never asked to prove their loyalty or investigate and defend their own whiteness. Minorities are like Daffy Duck, forever doomed to have the anvil fall on our heads regardless of our individual guilt or innocence.

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4 Comments »

  1. Ain’t that the truth unwatered?!

  2. The term phobia implies fear,I do not fear you,thus cannot be a “Islamophobe”.I am however ever concerned with the lack of public condemnation from any Islamic source anytime there is an incident involving Muslims.Anytime a group of people hold silent when one of their own commits an act which is violent,criminal,unjust,or evil,it reflects upon the community as a whole.To remain silent or to support such actions can only bring mistrust,dislike and even hate upon the whole group.It is not to typical normal Islam’s best interest to refuse to comment,condemn,and disassociate themselves from violent radical elements within Islam,and to state you yourselves fear violent reprisals only goes to prove the radical elements are out of control.

  3. It is not hatred but an observation any cultural foundation text consistently informs a variance of behavior patchwork, liberal, moderate, extremist, terrorist. Now if consistently a cultural foundation text informs terror against Other and huge resources, better spent on education and health, have to be diverted to protect ourselves simply from fellow citizens of a specific dogma I suggest, not unreasonably there is a problem.

    And I do not accept I should, nor any society, have to accept such a culture in my midst because a majority of the adherents are not terrorists even though some will always occur in time and space to wreak havoc.

    The fact Muslims are not all ‘suicide shooters’ misses the point neither were all Nazis in Germany yet the same genocidal construct of Other is resulting in terror despite the fact most Muslims are liberal moderates.

    Indonesia is a prime example of not only the liberal moderate terrorist nexus but also increasing Islamic terror against Other rather than a lessening despite diversion of huge sum of resources including from Australia.

    You are a Muslim you are defined by exactly the same cultural foundation text as the terrorist the fact you are not one is no comfort to the Islamic victims past and future.

    The Islamic terrorists simply would not exist if liberal moderates did not exist – yes the logic leads inexorably to this fact.

    The family of the terrorists and the Islamic culture itself are in denial not only on behalf of the child of the family and the culture but their own part they will now reflect they may have played, or will be accused of playing in enabling such an act.

    The fathers statement “My son is a true angel,” exposes the notion of character we assign from a personal and cultural view of our ‘own’ which though acceptable within that cultural construct has terrible consequences for Other. The ‘angle’ within one culture becomes a heinous vile person in another.

    It underlines the fact cultures inform a consistent variance of attitudes and behaviors which have generally no detrimental impact on the culture within which they reside but certainly do to Other as we have seen in Boston and elsewhere.

    Why is it we repeatedly hear families of terrorists claim they are indeed moderate liberals and they do not know how this is has happened the terrorist was an ‘Angel’.

    The facts are research is showing us prejudice is set (observed behaviours and conditioning) almost in stone 0-5 years of age informed by these very same families and the culture within which they reside which are the bedrock of ethical attitudes to Other which result in the continuing Islamic terror we see against Other.

    Culture is based on cultural foundation texts which frame the ethics, ideas, motivation, action for and against Other. Words and sentences are not furry entities they are there for a practical purpose. Islamic terror is the result and will continue to be so until all Islamic cultural foundation text determining Other as less evil etc and destined for ‘grievous harm’ and ‘severest penalty’ are removed.

    Islamophobia is therefore non-existent because the fear is rational.

    Therefore criminal defined attacks on Muslims or otherwise are based on real and justified fears of negative societal impacts of Islam. This does not in anyway make these attacks anymore justified than Islamic terrorism.

    It is rather absurd people reacting to Muslim terror are accused of a phobia yet Muslims are not accused of a phobia for consistently generating violence against Other. We are consistently told Muslims are a peaceful bunch who seek peace with Other and do not view Other in a negative light – polling of Muslim attitudes to Christians in Turkey quickly show how false this is.

    Facing the reality text creates Islamic terror generation after generation needs to be accepted and acted upon before a worse schism as we see in Syria occurs in time and space.

  4. Mr Ali,
    You proclaim your horror of prejudices towards the Muslim community.
    And well you should.

    But sir, it is beneath contempt that you go on to use words and phrases such as :
    ~ whiteness
    ~white people are like Bugs Bunny
    ~”Muslimy” options
    ~ White people wear a Teflon cloak

    Perhaps this will come as a surprise but you have a deep prejudice towards the great swath of Americans.
    Now, how despicable is that ?

    You are against prejudice when it suits you, but, you are for it when it suits you !

    All in all your column was ill conceived, poorly written, and nonsensical ; personally, I am prejudiced towards such ‘journalistic’ junk.

    As a person who is a ‘double’ minority I understand better than most, the horrors that are brought forth from sheer hatred.
    How sad for you that – you are unable to ‘see the forest from the trees’.

    C.S.Neal

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